The following resources focus on the educational climate and betterment of those serving the K–12 educational community.

Selected Statistics From the Public Elementary and Secondary Education Universe: School Year 2015-16  There were 98,456 operating public elementary and secondary schools in school year 2015–16; this number includes 1,253 new schools that opened for the first time. During this time there were 50.33 million public elementary and secondary school students in membership, an increase of less than 0.1 percent from the 50.31 million students reported in school year 2014–15. In 2015–16, public elementary and secondary schools and local education agencies employed a total of 3.2 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio (i.e., the number of students for every FTE teacher) in public schools was 16.0, down from 16.1 in 2014–15. Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the pupil/teacher ratio in 2015–16 ranged from a high of 23.6 in California to a low of 10.5 in Vermont. Florida had 4,322 schools in operation in 2015-16 employing 182,586 teachers educating 2.8 million students. Florida’s pupil/teacher ratio was 15.3. (National Center for Education Statistics)

Trends in State Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plans   This report reviews how 17 state plans implementing the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) address the needs of historically disadvantaged groups of students. In general, states picked indicators that get at whether students are learning, including chronic absenteeism, college and career readiness, and on-track graduation. But some states picked so many indicators that schools may not have the incentive to improve on any of them. Also, some states, including Florida, use measures of the whole school’s academic performance, without incorporating the performance of sub-groups of students. Some states are still using so-called “super subgroups,” which combine English-language learners, students in special education, and minorities for accountability purposes, potentially masking gaps among specific sub-groups.   (Education Trust)

 Modern Apprenticeships Offer Path to Career — and College  At least in word — if not always in deed — school districts across the United States have shifted from preparing students for college or careers, to preparing students for college and careers. (Hechinger Report)

Vital Signs  Change the Equation transitioned Vital Signs to our suite of STEM resources. Vital Signs is the nation’s most thorough and timely source of state-by-state data on the condition of STEM education and enhances our commitment to providing state leaders with comprehensive STEM knowledge and support.

Effects of School Funding Reform  The school funding reform package, passed by lawmakers last year, recently took effect. Sen. Andy Manar says it won’t take long for some Illinois school districts to notice the difference. (Regional Daily News)

50-State Comparison: States’ School Accountability Systems  ESSA created the opportunity for states to rethink their accountability systems and redefine how to hold schools and districts accountable for student performance. What shifts are being made, and how are states incorporating a wider variety of school quality measurements? The new 50-State Comparison: States’ School Accountability Systems provides a national overview of current state accountability systems, and looks at the changes states are making in their ESSA plans.

Few States Want to Offer Districts Chance to Give ACT, SAT Instead of State Test  The Every Student Succeeds Act may have kept annual testing as a federal requirement. But it also aims to help states cut down on the number of assessments their students must take by giving districts the chance to use a nationally-recognized college entrance exam, instead of the regular state test, for accountability purposes. (Education Week)

Advance Illinois Deputy Director Ben Boer discusses school funding formula on the Education Gadfly Show  Ben Boer joined the Fordham Institute podcast to discuss how a coalition of advocates succeeded in getting Illinois to overhaul its inequitable school funding formula.

Study Finds Poverty and School Quality Not Linked  A major study from Stanford University recently found socioeconomic status was no indication of a given school’s quality. The findings defy the typical assumptions about what makes a great public school. (Business Insider)

Can Visiting Students at Home Make Teachers Less Biased?  A study found that when teachers visit students and parents at home, it can change their assumptions and biases and create stronger school-home relationships. A national network is working to expand parent-teacher home visits. (Education Week)

Gov. Rauner Vows Fairness in School Funding Veto, but Lawmaker Sees ‘Absolute Chaos’  Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of legislation needed to implement a historic school funding bill, sending it back to lawmakers to “be cleaned up.” His decision drew concern from a key sponsor of the school funding measure, Sen. Andy Manar. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Yes, Poor Schools with Big Challenges Sometimes Work Wonders  Researchers discuss the triumphs of Chicago Public Schools and other districts facing similar challenges. (The 74)

Free Briefs Provide Info and Strategies for Building Self-Regulation Skills  This new series of reader-friendly briefs offers guidance about how to promote the development of children’s self-regulation skills across settings and age groups.

Racial “Microaggressions” Perpetuate Inequity  Even brief daily statements or actions can communicate hostile or derogatory racial slights and insults, which is the subject of this new infographic on microaggressions.

Low-Cost, Targeted Kernels of Practice Could Help in SEL Implementation  As more schools and out-of-school-time (OST) programs commit to social and emotional learning (SEL), several barriers have sprung up to implementing efforts on a wide scale, notably time and funding.  One solution, a new research brief argues, could be to employ “kernels”—concentrated strategies that target a specific behavior and could be taught quickly. For example, a teacher could use a deep-breathing technique to help students calm down or hand signals to indicate a change in direction for the class.